Back to IndieWire

‘Harry & Meghan’ Movie Takes a Controversial Stance on the Royal Family’s Rumored Ancestry

Queen Charlotte has another claim to fame besides being married to Mad King George.

Parisa Fitz-Henley and Murray Fraser, "Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance"

Lifetime

[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from the end of “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance.” A non-spoilery review is also available on IndieWire.]

Admittedly, information on historical figures can’t necessarily be spoiled in the traditional sense when it comes to movies and TV. But in the case of the Lifetime movie “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance,” its portrayal of the royal couple hews so closely to reality that some scenes that take storytelling license may be mistaken for fact.

This is the case later in the movie when actress and women’s rights activist Meghan Markle (Parisa Fitz-Henley) finally gets invited by her fiancé Prince Harry (Murray Fraser) to meet his gran, aka Queen Elizabeth II (Maggie Sullivun). After drinking tea and petting corgis, the Queen takes them to look at a portrait of Queen Charlotte.

As they gaze upon it, the Queen says, “I’ve always loved this portrait of our ancestor Queen Charlotte because the painter Ramsay didn’t try to hide her African heritage.”

Off Harry’s started look, she adds, “Oh yes, you’re of mixed race, Harry. So am I. Many of her portraits tried to hide that fact, but this one is most authentic, much like you.”

The last comment is addressed to Meghan, who had just discussed her determination to stay strong despite understanding that her biracial heritage — her mother is black, while her father is Caucasian — will draw inspire racist comments. Therefore, the movie’s version of the Queen has identified the Royal Family as sharing African heritage much like the future bride.

"Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance"

While this is a heartwarming ending to the movie as the couple approaches their nuptials in real life, it’s not likely that the Queen would ever say such a thing. While this rumor has its supporters and can’t be refuted, it can’t necessarily be proven either.

Here’s where the theory originates. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz is perhaps best known for marrying King George III, the monarch famous for the mental illness that earned him the nickname Mad King George. While she has German ancestry, on an episode of PBS’ “Frontline,” historian Mario de Valdes y Cocom said that the 16th-century Scottish painter Allan Ramsay deliberately painted her features to look African. He claims that’s because she is descended from a specific branch of the Portuguese royal family, which in turn can trace its ancestry 13th-century ruler Alfonso III and his lover Madragana, who was believed to be a black African.

Read More:Royal Wedding: All the Harry and Meghan Movies, Specials, and Big Day Live Coverage on TV

Valdes further claims that by emphasizing Queen Charlotte’s supposed African features, this was done in support of the American abolitionist movement since copies of these paintings were sent to the colonies at the time.

This is a lot of “what ifs,” which can’t be proven, but Buckingham Palace has not straight-out denied the speculation either. Spokesman David Buck is on record as saying, “This has been rumored for years and years. It is a matter of history, and frankly, we’ve got far more important things to talk about.”

Therefore, while the Queen did give approval in real life for Harry and Meghan to get hitched, Lifetime’s movie took the fairy tale one step further.

”Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance” airs its encore performances at 8 p.m. ET on Monday & Tuesday, May 14-15 and Saturday, May 19 on Lifetime.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , , ,


Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox

Newswire